What exactly would the National Population Register (NPR) exercise that is going to be undertaken by the Union Home Ministry entail? There are multiple reports and contradictory statements doing the rounds currently, and although the Home Ministry has put out a ‘clarification’ – there is still little clarity on the process.
On Thursday, January 15, The Times of India reported that it will be mandatory for anyone who holds an Aadhaar, Driver’s Licence, Passport, and/or Voter ID, to share the details of the same during the NPR exercise. ToI quoted Home Ministry sources for the information. However, another report in ToI’s sister publication, Economic Times, which was published on the same day, quoted a ‘senior official’ as saying that sharing of these details is voluntary – and that the NPR form will not ask for PAN details since people are reluctant to share the same.
Following this, the official handle of the spokesperson for Ministry of Home Affairs tweeted on Thursday: “As quoted in a news item, "Have Aadhar, Passpot? You will have to share details for NPR...Voter id, DL Info also Mandatory", gives a wrong impression that these documents would have to be compulsorily given for NPR exercise. Such a connotation is not correct.” (sic)
“It is reiterated that NO DOCUMENTS WOULD BE ASKED BY THE ENUMERATORS FOR THE NPR EXERCISE. If the respondents want to present documents for verification, they are free to do so. There would be no compulsion from the side of the enumerators,” the handle further said. (sic)
As quoted in a news item, "Have Aadhar, Passpot? You will have to share details for NPR...Voter id, DL Info also Mandatory", gives a wrong impression that these documents would have to be compulsorily given for NPR exercise. Such a connotation is not correct.@TOIIndiaNews pic.twitter.com/VgjO8wXYiG— Spokesperson, Ministry of Home Affairs (@PIBHomeAffairs) January 16, 2020
The statement, however, has added to the confusion around the NPR exercise. The Home Ministry’s tweet only spoke of documentation and not details, and it is still unclear whether the details are mandatory or voluntary. Further, some commenters on Twitter asked why there was no official notification to this effect, and others questioned why anyone would present documentation that is not asked for.
There is also confusion whether the NPR exercise will collect biometric information. Ministry sources had told PTI on Wednesday that a form carrying questions as part of the NPR exercise will be finalised soon. They also said "no papers will be asked" and "no biometrics will be taken" during the exercise. However, the information available on the website of the office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, the NPR database would contain demographic as well as biometric details. "The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars," it said.
What is NPR
The NPR is a register of usual residents of the country. It is being prepared at the local (village/sub-town), subdistrict, district, state and national levels under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. The rules have a provision for a fine of up to Rs 1,000 on those violating it.
The data for NPR was last collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of the Census 2011. This data was updated in 2015 via a door to door survey. While updating the register in 2015, the government had asked for details like Aadhaar and mobile number.
For the purposes of the NPR, a usual resident is defined as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more, or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months. The law compulsorily seeks to register every resident of India and issue a national identity card to citizens – as per rules to the Citizenship Act that were made in 2003. The NPR exercise will be carried out between April and September 2020 in all states and UTs, except Assam, along with the house listing phase of the census exercise. The Union Cabinet has approved Rs 3,941.35 crore for the NPR exercise.
Assam has been excluded because the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise has already been conducted in the state.
The states of West Bengal and Kerala have put works related to the updating NPR "on hold" for the time being amid furore over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Watch: Lawyer Gautam Bhatia explains CAA, how it is linked to NRC and NPR.
What is the CAA? How is linked to NRC and NPR? What does all this mean, legally? TNM is live with lawyer Gautam Bhatia who is answering all questions on the same.Posted by TheNewsMinute on Sunday, January 12, 2020